Obituary – Professor Sir John Marsh CBE, 1931-2017

Sir John died on the 30th September, 2017. Professor Sir John Marsh was one of a very small band of the World’s outstanding agricultural economists over the past thirty years. 

In 2011 he was awarded the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s National Agricultural Award in recognition of a career that spanned more than 50 active years. 

During this time, Sir John had a huge impact on the agricultural industry. He was Professor of Agricultural Economics and Management at the University of Reading, where throughout his career he was respected and admired by his students and colleagues. 

He was Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture from 1986 until 1989. Beyond the University he also served on the Agricultural Wages Board, the Potato Marketing Board, the Board of the Scottish Crop Research Institute and a number of Government and industry Task Forces and Advisory Committees. 

His work and impact on agricultural education, the agricultural industry and wise counsel in advising Government and other industry institutions was rewarded in June 1993 when he became a CBE. He was Knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1999. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE).

The RASE citation notes that the award is in recognition of Sir John’s many and varied contributions to agricultural economics, agricultural education and to our industry in general as well as his expertise and wise counsel in advising Government and other industrial institutions.

On the advice of the late Professor Sir Colin Spedding we contacted his friend and colleague, Sir John in 2003, inviting him to join a group of scientists who wished to publish a peer-reviewed journal, World Agriculture, to consider problems and challenges affecting world agriculture. 

This Journal reviews and discusses challenges and proposes possible solutions against the background of a rapidly growing world population and a changing climate. His response was immediate and positive. Sir John provided a much needed economic and business perspective.

Since joining the Editorial Board he has written innumerable editorials of excellent quality for World Agriculture, each of which has explained with great clarity the most critical aspect of the particular subject at hand. He has not only explained the economics involved, but he has always made clear that agriculture is carried out by people for the benefit of people. 

His contributions to the discussions on the sociological influence of changing agricultural practices on village communities, produce production and marketing is immense. On the death of Sir Colin Spedding he most ably assumed the Chairmanship of World Agriculture.

He has been a tireless worker for our Journal; his wise advice and positive support will be sorely missed. We send our condolences to his wife, Kathleen, Lady Marsh and family.

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